Snack Recipe: Time to Make the Granola

We have this little joke at our house. I don't know how many of you remember those old Dunkin Donuts commercials where the little guy with the mustache would wake up at the crack of dawn. He would mumble, "Time to make the donuts," and then the camera would follow him along as he prepped the donuts for the day. Well, at our house we say, "Time to make the granola." We know when the blue plastic container is left out on the counter that it's time to make a new batch. Daddy Ericlee scarfs at least one batch of granola a week!

Meilani is now joining me for the weekly making of the granola. We usually try to do it on Sunday afternoon or Monday so Daddy has a great supply of cereal (and snack) throughout his busy work week. (And we save a ton of money this way too because all the ingredients are available in bulk. Meilani helps me measure the oats and mix on the sunflower seeds, flaxseed and almonds. Whenever she sees me reaching for the big glas bowl and pulling down the ingredients, she pulls up a chair to the counter and rolls back her sleaves. "Help" she says. It's a command, not a question.

Some of you have it already but we thought we'd share our special Peanut Butter granola recipe. You can make it into a loose cereal/snack or pat it down in a rectangle pan to make granola bars. We even packaged it up for some friends for Christmas gifts tied with a pretty ribbon. Time to make the granola...


-olive oil spray
-3 cups oats
-1 cup natural peanut butter
-1 cup honey + 1/4 cup honey
-1 tablespoon vanilla
-1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
-1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
-1/2 cup chopped almonds
-1/4 cup flaxseed
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/2 cup shredded coconut

1. Spray rectangle cake pan with olive oil spray. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine peanut butter, 1 cup honey and vanilla. Allow to warm until you can mix the 3 together to form a runny paste.

3. In a large bowl, mix oats, seeds, almonds and flaxseed.

4. Pour peanut butter mixture over oat mixture and mix until clumps of granola form. Mix in raisins.

5. Then pour mixture into cake pan and spread out evenly.

6. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 honey.

7. Sprinkle with coconut.

8. At this point if you just want to make granola cereal or snack, stick it in the oven. If you want bars, then use a large metal spoon to pat granola down lightly.

8. Bake approx. 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.

9. Remove from oven and pat down again to flatten if you want to cut it into bars. Otherwise, cool.

10. Allow to fully cool and then cut into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or just serve out of the pan for a snack anytime. These are also great crumbled with yogurt for breakfast.

**NOTES: These are inexpensive to make especially if you buy your oats and honey in bulk at places like Costco and Winco. Feel free to substitute your own favorite nuts and seeds. Winco sells seeds, raisins and unsweetened coconut in the bulk section. They also sell the fresh, natural peanut butter. Try to avoid prepackaged seeds or peanut butter with added sugar, salt, etc.


Scavenging for organic skin and hair products

For some reason, each winter, I find myself battling itchy legs, dry skin and even rashes. I thought it was due to being indoors and all the dry heat. When I was pregnant with Meilani, my doctor thought it was a rare pregnancy rash. (I've since heard of other women dealing with this.) About a month ago the rash on my legs appeared again and I found myself waking up in the middle of the night scratching. If I could think about any kind of torture that would kill me, this would be it. Itchiness drives me insane.

What could I do? I went back to my doctor and asked his advice. He looked at my legs and noted that they were nicely-shaven but that my razor (the amazing Mac3) was doing perhaps too good a job and shaving off actual layers of my skin. He suggested buying organic lotions, and shaving gels and abandoning this razor. He also suggested I use Ericlee's electric razor for a few weeks to give my skin a rest.

I tried it.

Please understand I'm the type who has been buying the same L.A. Looks Hair Gel, Pantene Curly Hair Conditioner and some kind of Coconut lotion from Bath & Body Works since I was a teenager. They're easy. They're cheap. I know where to go. But now I was stumped.

I started perusing one of the books on my shelf, THE GOOD HERB by Judith Benn Hurley, for some advice. She writes, "Avoid products that contain mineral oils or other petroleum products. After longtime use, they can clog pores and eventually dry out skin. Instead look for products that contain nut and seed oils such as almond or sesame. Also avoid products that contain alcohol, which is a cheap emulsifier and preservative that will dry out the skin."

Do a little experiment yourself. Check out your skin and hair products and see which ones contain these mineral oils and petroleum products. I found one too many in our cupboard. If you think about it, the very products that claim to "moisturize" your skin are actually drying it out, thus causing you to buy more. Sounds like a scam to me.

I found myself taking a field trip to Whole Foods in hopes of finding some kinder, gentler organic products and a solution for my itchy syndrome. If you've ever been to the hair and skin care section of Whole Foods (or any store for that matter), you know it's a bit overwhelming. At Whole Foods, the prices can knock your socks off. I finally settled on Alba Coconut Lime Shaving cream. (Ok, yeah, it was the little sale sign and the tropical scent that attracted me - $4.99).

While I was at it, I saw Whole Foods now carries their shampoos and conditioners in their 365 brand for $2. Wow! What a find. I decided on a peppermint variety just to try it out. Could I handle abandoning my trusty Pantene?

I later found an All-Natural Aloe-based lotion called Midsummer Night's Cream at Trader Joe's for a couple of dollars along with Refresh Citrus Body Wash with Vitamin C and added that to my collection of treasures to treat my skin.

Why am I sharing all this? I thought some of you may be battling the same problems. It's always nice to have a recommendation on where to start. What I love about this new adventure with all-natural and organic skin and hair products is that these finds are also nicer to the environment. They come in recycled plastic bottles and they don't contain nasty chemicals or parabens. The healthy living journey continues.

My recommendations:

Herbal Mint Shampoo & Conditioner 365 (Whole Foods) - great for normal or curly hair and doesn't contain artificial color, fragrance and parabens.

Alba Moisturizing Cream Shave Coconut Lime (Whole Foods) - a smooth cream that smells like a pina colada or something scrumptious and makes shaving easy and gentle

Refresh Citrus Body Wash (Trader Joe's) - a great price for a body wash that comes in 16 ounces!
A Midsummer Night's Cream Moisturizing Lotion - an unscented herbal blend with aloe and, again, a great price compared to some of the other expensive products out there.

Burt's Bees Shampoo & Wash (Target, Whole Foods, other stores) - This item is for little ones like Meilani. I've been buying her Burts Bees since she was born. Pretty much all the regular baby stuff like Johnsons & Johnsons has that yucky mineral oil.

--Dorina Lazo Gilmore


Recipe of the Week: Dorina's Italian Chicken Sausage & Kale Soup

This time of year - when colds are plentiful and the air has that memorable chill - all I'm thinking about is SOUP! After perusing many Italian sausage soup recipes, I decided to create my own healthy variety and it was a big hit with the family. The great thing about this recipe is it uses kale, which you can find fresh at the local farmer's market this season. Kale has huge health benefits, including being rich in beta-carotene (which protects against diseases of the skin) and a host of vitamins. One article on TheFoodPaper.com says, "The boost in immune support and antioxidant protection provided by these vitamins could help ward off the colds and flus of the season, not to mention more serious diseases."

Italian Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 red potatoes, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes (or fresh, of course, if they're in season)
2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups (cage free, organic) chicken broth
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 package Italian Chicken Sausage, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Trader Joe's Wine & Cheese Chicken Sausage and baked it in the oven for 30 minutes. Some varieties are already fully cooked when you buy them.)

2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used rotini - the curly Qs)

3 cups thinly sliced kale (green or purple)
1 15-oz can canellini beans (or dried and cooked if you want to save some $$)

Garnish: Shaved parmesan cheese

1. Add olive oil to a large stock pot and turn to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, chop all vegetables.
2. Sweat (like saute but in a big pot) the veggies with the garlic until soft.
3. Add chicken broth, spices and sausage. Bring to a boil and add pasta. Boil approximately 8 minutes until noodles are tender.
4. Reduce heat and add kale and beans to pot. Cook an additional 10 minutes.
5. Serve with shaved parmesan cheese for garnish.


Recipe of the Week: Dorina's Chili Pizazz with Honey Cornbread

At this time of year, we love to make soups and chilis to warm up those winter nights. I grew up in Chicago and I always loved my mom's spicy chili packed with veggies and served with a slice of warm, crusty bread. Even though I call California home today, I still have that longing at certain times of year for something with a little heat.

My daughter, Meilani, is a big fan of anything colorful we can make together in the big pot. Here's a recipe you can do vegetarian and its packed with protein or you can add ground turkey for a little extra something meaty. Use what you have in your pantry and be creative with what is in season.

This is also a great way to feed a crowd on a budget!

Dorina's Chili Pizazz

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 small yellow squash or 2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional brain food)

1 cup ground turkey, browned (optional)
1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (or 1 15 oz. can)
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (or 1 15-oz. can)

1 29-oz. can organic diced tomatoes (or fresh if in season)
1 15-oz. can organic tomato sauce
1 quart chicken broth

1 teaspoon garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves

1. Saute veggies in a large pot with olive oil. Add flaxseed.
2. Meanwhile, brown gr. turkey in a frying pan and add to pot.
3. Add spices to veggie mix with tomatoes, sauce and chicken broth. Cook approx. 30 min.
4. Add beans and simmer additional 20 min.
5. Serve with warm bread or over rice.

I created this cornbread recipe one night when I didn't have much cornmeal left. It's been a hit in my family ever since and my mom even has her fifth grade students make it each year when they are studying prairie life. I love the moist, honey tones. Serve it warm with a touch of organic butter as a side to the chili.

Honey Cornbread

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups unbleached, unbromated flour (I like King Arthur if you can't mill your own.)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup organic butter, melted
2 teaspoons (aluminum free) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (aluminum free) baking soda
2 tablespoons (raw) honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 large (cage-free) eggs

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 8 square pan.
2. Beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients and mix in.
3. Pour in pan and bake approx. 30 minutes until golden brown on top.
4. Serve warm with raw honey and/or butter.


Raw Milk: Author Jordan Rubin talks about a California Reality

Last night I took a field trip to Organic Pastures farm in Fresno for a special event featuring a talk by Jordan Rubin, bestselling author of THE MAKER'S DIET. This was an exciting event not only because I got the chance to hear Jordan's message of hope for people, but also because I got the chance to check out the local farm where we get our weekly raw milk.

"Raw milk?" you ask. Yes, the Gilmores are drinking raw milk. It's extraordinary for this lactose-intolerant mama who hadn't consumed a real glass of milk in more than a decade. Raw milk is unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk straight from the grass-fed, free-roaming cow at Organic Pastures farms. There are only two farms in California selling the stuff and one is 20 minutes down the road from us.

Of course, dairy families have been drinking raw milk for years and feeling the healthful benefits of this food created by God. Mark McAffee has a barn-full of success stories of people who switched to raw milk and said bye bye to their kids asthma, autism, allergies, skin problems, the list goes on. It's full of what they call the "good bacteria" your body really needs. If you're skeptical, read on.

Two of my friends, Allison and Cori, from our church small group joined me for this excursion. We packed up Allison's little one, Mia, for the ride out to the farm. It was a dark, rainy drive but Allison persevered behind the wheel. We passed several dairies but we knew they were not "organic pastures" because the cows were all huddled together, sitting in their poop, rather than roaming the green grasses.

Some balloons and a sign marked the entrance of our destination and we pulled down the long driveway to the barn-airplane hanger-turned-hay-bale-theater. We were warmly greeted and stepped inside the hay theater. The hay bales were set up in rows with heaters blaring in the corners. A table was set with homemade brownies, raw milk products (even hot chocolate!) and oranges - a welcome treat. Mark McAffee (pictured here) is the owner of Organic Pastures and he did the intros. He's become a friend of ours since we see him at the Vineyard Farmer's Market each weekend and Ericlee has had many long talks with him about raw milk and healthy living options.

Each audience member was given a "goodie bag" with a Health magazine and a FREE copy of Jordan's new book, "PERFECT WEIGHT AMERICA." Apparently, Jordan has become good friends with Mark too since he's been buying his products for years. Jordan has his special "dog food" (so that it's legal) shipped to Florida where he lives. He told an amazing story about how his adopted daughter who came from a drug abuse background had a mix of raw milk formula and has never had an side effects from her parents' drug abuse. Needless to say, Jordan's a believer in the power of "living" raw milk products.

Jordan's talk was very eye-opening. For those who don't know, he suffered from Crohn's disease and was an emaciated 110-pound weakling facing death until someone challenged him to drop the myriads of medicines and special diets and just eat food God designed. According to his book, "my health rebounded after I began consuming healthy 'live' foods that were rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and friendly microorganisms called probiotics..." (Perfect Weight America, 10).

The event was very inspiring. I loved hearing Jordan in person and hearing Mark's stories about how raw milk has helped so many in the valley and beyond. And as Mark said, the real heroes in the room were the breastfeeding mamas who have the "real stuff." I felt like some kind of renegade sitting there on the hay bills, sipping Chocoleche and peeling oranges. Then again, I knew I was among friends.


Recipe of the Week: Dorina's Honey Whole Wheat Pizza with Baby Greens & Fuyu Persimmons Salad

After the holidays, you might be looking for an easy, fun family night. Why not make homemade pizza with all your favorite toppings? Here's our pizza crust and if you have a KitchenAid or other heavy duty mixer or bread maker it's a snap.

Dorina's Whole Wheat Honey Pizza Crust

Use KitchenAid or other high-powered mixer with dough hook attachment.

1 package yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon organic sugar or honey
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (or a mix of 4 cups/1 1/4 cups unbromated white flour)
1 cup cold water (filtered is best)

Pizza toppings of your choice:

-We like

pepperoni, mushroom, green peppers and black olives.

eggplant, chicken, garlic and parmesan cheese for something fancy.

Thai chicken (Mix 2 tablespoons peanut butter with 1 tablespoon soy sauce to create a marinade for 1-2 sliced chicken breasts) with green onions, shredded carrots and crushed red pepper flakes for something exotic.

1. Proof the yeast by adding yeast to 1 cup warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes until it starts to bubble.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the KitchenAid bowl with yeast mixture.
3. Turn on mixer and allow to knead a min. of 10 minutes. Dough should be elastic and not too sticky. Add more flour if it seems sticky.
4. Divide dough into four portions and freeze or refrigerate if you don't plan to use right away.
5. Roll out 1 ball of dough per pizza and let rest 10 minutes rolled out.
6. Top raw dough with your favorite sauce and fixings.
7. Bake in oven approx. 20 min. on 400 degrees or until cheese melts and crust is "hollow" when you tap it with a finger nail. This dough is great for calzones or pizza pockets as well.

Here's an easy salad to impress your guests with color and in-season vegetables. The Fuyu persimmons are the squatty, firm ones, not the baking kind that get mushy. Cut the tops off and slice them like an apple. I found them this week at the Orange Store in Fresno on the NW corner of Shaw & Maroa Avenues.

Baby Greens Salad with Fuyu Persimmons

1 package/bunch mixed baby greens or fresh organic greens of your choice
2 thinly sliced fuyu persimmons
1 thinly sliced small red onion
1 container 4 oz. feta cheese or goat cheese

Arrange salad in a bowl.
Make dressing.

Easy Dressing:
Add 3/4 salad oil to a small mason jar.
Mix in 1 T. apple juice
1 t. lime juice
1/4 t. salt
1 t. mixed herbs (1/4 t. basil, 1/4 t. oregano, 1/4 t. rosemary, 1/4 t. mint)

Shake jar and pour over salad.

Breastfeeding for a Better Future

I am a breastfeeding enthusiast. There. I said it. Some of you may be asking why I would spend blog time on this topic but I’m finding that with each passing day I’m becoming more passionate about this breastfeeding thing. Maybe it’s because at least a dozen of my friends have newborns. Maybe it’s because the more I read about healthy living and eating, the more I realize that it all starts at the very beginning with how we feed our kids. For you men and women who are thinking about having kids in the future, or you mamas-to-be who are already on the path, breastfeeding is worth taking seriously.

Here’s why:


The benefits abound for babies who are breastfed. There’s really no substitute for what they can gain through this dynamically-designed, natural food from Mama. Dr. Leo Galland, in his book SUPERIMMUNITY FOR KIDS, says “For the first six months of an infant’s life, breast milk is optimum food.” He explains that when a baby is born, his/her immune system is immature. The way I see it, breastfeeding is a bridge for your baby to the point where your child’s immune system is fully developed and ready to meet the nasty things in our world today on its own.

The goal is to start our kids down the path to a healthy future. Dr. Rex Russell, author of WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING says, “To maintain health, the following must be present simultaneously and in proper balance: organic vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids and unrefined carbohydrates. These are all present in human breast milk, as are hundreds of other lesser understood food factors. The longer scientists study the human breast and its milk, the more obvious it is that neither random chance nor survival of the fittest could explain its complexity.”

This complexity is extraordinary to think about. Yet, 40 to 50 years ago, some scientists decided that breast milk was deficient in both Vitamin D and iron so they invented formula and marketed it as better for babies. Now it pervades our culture (and the world) as “the easy choice.” (Many American moms receive free formula in the mail when they have a baby – just to try out. How’s that for a vote of confidence about breastfeeding?) And I wonder, why were babies before this point in history so healthy? Seems strange.

Why is breast milk the best option? Kids need something called DHA (which is a specific kind of omega-3 fatty acid) for healthy development. Some formulas contain added DHA now (look for these if you must use formula) but breast milk already contains it. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of “DISEASE-PROOF YOUR CHILD, explains, “DHA is also a normal component of breast milk, and infants fed breast milk score higher on intellectual and visual measurements than those fed baby formulas lacking DHA. Children who were breastfed as a group, have higher IQ scores than those who are formula-fed.” Breast milk even helps make kids smart! Move over Baby Einstein.

Breast milk helps protect little ones from disease as well as common sickness. Dr. Russell writes, “Breast fed children have a special resistance to many childhood diseases. This is because the early milk, or colostrum, sets up the infant’s immunoreactive system.”

In his book, Russell quotes a study that examined breast fed infants and followed them up to five years of age. The study found they have a much lower incidence of diarrhea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, vomiting, asthma, earaches, childhood allergies and crib death. That study alone convinces me.

Here’s more: “Also, viral and bacterial infections, cancers and learning disabilities are less of a problem. Parents of these children may be spared much anguish and also avoid costly medical care.” Ok, so we’re making sacrifices as mothers. We’re investing time into our kids by breastfeeding and we’re saving money on doctor bills in the long run. (I say maybe it’s even worth it financially to take those couple of extra months off work.)

I’ve also discovered that breast milk is truly dynamic, meaning it morphs to meet the needs of a child. A few weeks ago, I had a sinus cold. That baby had me down for three days but my daughter was infected and done with it in less than 24 hours. Why? Russell explains this phenomenon: “Apparently, the infant who is exposed to infections, then nurses from its mother, produces changes in the mother’s breast. Within hours, the next milk starts producing antibodies and immunoglobulins to protect the baby before the infant becomes sick.” I don’t know of any formula or animal’s milk that has the power to change like that. Amazing.

The studies on breastfeeding are many. One study that struck me with its relevance shows that breastfed children are less likely to become obese as they grow older. In today’s society when obesity is so common among elementary children, this is another exciting opportunity to help your child along the path to a healthy future.

Best of all, breastfeeding is free. No messy bottles and formula to mix. No extra items to remember in the diaper bag. If Mama eats healthy, baby reaps the benefits at no extra monetary cost.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that breastfeeding is a huge time investment and requires a lot of work from Mama. I am not one of those people who had an easy time breastfeeding in the beginning. It was a huge wake-up call during Meilani’s first few weeks of life when I would spend 8-10 hours in the glider a day nursing. No wonder they call mothering a full-time job. At moments, I thought I would go crazy. For those of you who know me, you know I am a multi-tasker. I love to be busy. I never stay in one place for too long. I had to quickly accept that especially the first few months of Meilani’s life would have to be a “season of quiet” for me. I learned to keep books, magazines and other distractions all over the house to keep me occupied. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading my Bible. The good news (or maybe the bad news) is this season was over quickly and we were on to the next phase of eating.

Breastfeeding can be very painful at first too. My Meilani was a “snacker.” She was a tiny little thing and she would nurse for 5-15 minutes and then nod off to sleep. When she would wake up – not more than 30 minutes later – she would be ravenous again and we would have to start the whole cycle again. Not fun. I was engorged. My nipples were sore. She wasn’t latching on properly. She was losing weight. We had all the symptoms that would cause us to give up. But Ericlee and I were determined. We knew the benefits far outweighed the discomfort.

I went to see a wonderful lactation specialist, Suzanne Stipe, at Fresno Community Hospital for some help. We met with her 4-5 times over the first month and she offered me the much-needed encouragement and advice I needed. It took one day of screaming torture but after that we got Meilani on a 2-hour feeding schedule. She started gaining weight. I tried out a nipple shield to relieve some of the pain. (I was worried about this extra “paraphernalia” to hall around but I was able to wean Meilani off this in a month without much problem.) And now the rest is history. Yes, I am still breastfeeding at 16 months and proud of it.


Breastfeeding helps Mama’s body too. Our bodies are designed to shrink back into their normal state during breastfeeding. You may feel some “contractions” during early breastfeeding, which, of course, isn’t fun, but it’s all part of God’s design to help everything get back to the proper place both inside and outside our bodies. Pretty cool weight-loss plan.

Dr. Galland says, “A bottle can’t help your body recover more quickly from childbirth. Nursing triggers the secretion of vasopressin, a hormone that makes the uterus contract, helping it return to its normal state more quickly than it would otherwise.”

Breastfeeding burns about 250 calories per day, adds Galland, which is the equivalent of a 3-mile run. This about the only time I can think of that sitting in a chair cuddling is actually exercise. (Another reasons for moms to be patient in those first few months when they can’t get out running or to the gym much.)

Breastfeeding may even protect moms from developing breast cancer later in life. Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle report that women who breast feed have half the risk of developing breast cancer compared with those who don’t.

And the fun part is breastfeeding can even make your wardrobe cute and trendy. About a year ago these new “breastfeeding capes” went on the market. Online companies like Hooter Hiders and Bébé Au Lait are making a mint on these beautiful capes in a plethora of colors and patterns to help nursing moms stay modest and comfortable when breastfeeding in public. They’re even available on Craigslist. Go figure.


My favorite part of breast feeding is the bonding. After I got past those first hard six weeks, I settled into a routine with Meilani. Breast feeding forced me to slow down, to enjoy each of the stages of my growing little girl. In the mornings and before bed, I had a built-in time for reflection and to feel thankful for this little life.

“The longer the duration of breast feeding, the more measurable the improvement the quality of the mother-child relationship for as long as two years after birth,” writes Dr. Russell. I’m not sure if we’ll be breastfeeding until two years. I realize this isn’t “socially acceptable” in our American culture. Some kids lose interest after a while. For now, I’m still committed as I continue to feed Meilani a healthy diet of solids as well.

The bottom line for me is that breastfeeding is the best option. I realize there are a few cases out there where breastfeeding isn’t an option. These cases are rare. I believe even a few months to start a child off right are helpful. If you need a little boost of encouragement, call me. I’d love to listen.

And now, here’s a chance for you to contribute. Do you have any stories or tips for successful breastfeeding? Any questions we can research together to help encourage others? Leave a comment.


Smart Snacks for the Whole Family

For the last couple of weeks, we've been on a treasure hunt for healthy snacks. Our goal was to find some good eats - homemade and ready-made - that kids can enjoy for lunches or anytime. We discovered some good treats for the whole family.

Of course, finding "healthy" snacks means we had to read lots of labels and peruse lots of recipes. In our culture, a snack is so often equated with junk like cookies, chips, candy and pop (Ok, soda) - full of empty calories, chemical-laden white sugars and flours. But life with a toddler has taught us that snacks need to be nutritious and delicious because really they are mini-meals. Meilani partakes in many mini-meals a day.

We wanted to share our Top 10 list and we encourage you to share these recipes or add to our list some of the smart snacks you've discovered on your own. Why should moms have to do all the research individually? Why not share the wealth of our treasure hunt with others? Pass it on.


*Dorina's Peanut Butter Coconut Granola (Bars or Crumbled) - Find the recipe at the right. This granola is a big hit at the Gilmores. Daddy eats it for breakfast with milk as cereal. Mama & Meilani eat it as a snack. We even use it thrown on top of fruit and baked in the oven like a "crisp" dessert.
*Apple slices with Almond Butter - They sell fresh-pressed Almond Butter at our local Winco grocery store and lots of other stores are carrying almond butter on their shelves. Just slice up the apple of your choice and give your kids a small bowl of almond butter for dipping.
*Pear slices with Organic Peanut Butter - Choose firm pears like bosc or other varieties, slice them up and spread them with peanut butter. Look for peanut butters that use real peanuts and no added sugar. (Jiffy doesn't count! - more sugar than peanuts.)
*Organic Whole Milk Yogurt sprinkled with Cinnamon - We like Yo Baby! brand because they come in individual containers but you can save money buying a tub of organic yogurt and dishing it our yourself. Instead of adding sugar, try honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add your own fresh fruit or let kids dip fresh fruit cut into sticks in the yogurt.
*Banana-Oatmeal Power Cookies - These are a new favorite snack recipe from the Complete Outdoor Living William Sonoma cookbook. Let us know if you want the recipe. The Cross Country team already digs these power-packed treats.
*Maple Glazed Walnuts - We snagged this one from Food Network's Ellie Krieger who hosts the show, Healthy Appetite on Saturdays. She's a great resource for yummy tasting, healthy eats. And this recipe is a snap to make.
*Carrot Sticks or Celery Sticks with Hummus dip - We make our own homemade hummus (recipe at right), which is a mix of garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt. It's simple and cheap to make from scratch. Meilani is a "dipper" and here's another chance to get those healthy beans in her system along with fresh vegetables. Ericlee eats hummus instead of mayo on a sandwich. Dorina prefers hummus with pita bread and a spoonful of salsa.
*Whole Fruit Smoothies with Flaxseed - We have one of those VitaMix blenders (like the ones they use at Jamba Juice) and you can pretty much throw any whole fruit into it with a little soy milk or juice and a tablespoon of flaxseed and you have instant breakfast. Meilani is a big fan. I buy a package of colored straws and she drinks smoothies for breakfast and treats.
*Banana Oat Muffins - This is a new recipe from a book called HEALTHY KIDS by Marilu Henner. She gives lots of ideas on healthy food for kids minus the excessive sugar and white flours. The book is a great resource on healthy living and includes recipes at the back.
*Trail Mix - You can buy trail mix in individual packages now at places like Costco. We like to make our own with nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips available in bulk at places like Winco. Let your kids create their own mix and get excited about sharing it.
*Whole Wheat Quesadillas with Organic Sour Cream - Trader Joe's is our favorite local grocery store and they sell fabulous whole wheat quesadillas. They are thick and chewy - great for quesadillas with a dab of TJ's sour cream (with no hormones).


*Organic Fruitabu - These are available in bulk at Costco or in small packages at your regular grocery store. Fruitabu are 100% fruit with no added sugar. Move over Fruit Roll-ups.
*Kashi crackers (5-grain or cheese) - Kashi is a great brand for snack crackers and many local grocery stores carry Kashi now.
*Trader Joe's Fig bars - As mentioned before, Trader Joe's is a favorite for us and they make yummy cereal bars with Figs. Meilani digs them and they can double as a quick breakfast or lunch accompaniment. Great for picnics.
*Whole Wheat Organic Os - Skip the Cheerios or sugar-coated cereals and seek out a 100% whole wheat Os. These can be found at Vons, Safeway, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods - pretty much any grocery if you look carefully.
*Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips - We love these with salsa and the blue corn adds a visual twist. We crumble these chips into tortilla soup and other soups as well for garnish.
*Organic Tortilla Chips with Flaxseed - These are also available in bulk at Winco or places like Trader Joe's. Help your kids get their share of flaxseed - that amazing brain food. No joke; Studies show they'll be smarter.
*Larabars - These are an awesome all-fruit and nut bar with no added sugar. Then ingredients list is literally 2-3 items. You don't find that very often in snacks. Ericlee's favorite flavor is Apple Pie. Mmmm, good.
*Clif's ZBar - This is a new bar designed especially for kids by the Clif Bar company. They come in yummy flavors like Chocolate Brownie and Chocolate Chip with no high fructose corn syrup like those other bars...
*Annie's Whole Wheat or Cheddar Bunnies - For toddlers who are into bunnies and ducks, substitute these whole grain treats instead of the traditional animal crackers that have very little nutritional value. We find them at Costco in bulk or other stores like Whole Foods or Vons in smaller packages. These cute bunnies taste great and don't have added sugar.
*Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Bars - These are ready-made granola bars if you don't want to make your own and they incorporate blueberries or other dried fruit to please your kids' palates.


Healthy Living: It's a Journey

We’re starting a new journey, a quest of sorts, seeking higher ground. For those of you who know us, you might say this has been a long time coming. After all, Ericlee has been a disciplined athlete and coach for almost 20 years and Dorina has been passionate about homemade, good-tasting, fresh food for about the same amount of time. You might say we’re on a “food journey.” But it’s more than a road trip down the latest fad diet lane or culinary trend. We are really thinking and changing our lifestyle to embrace healthy living - in all areas. Of course that includes a diversity of topics, including how we care for our bodies, what we eat, how we exercise, how we raise our children, what we believe about medicine, how we recycle and give back to the earth, how we invest our resources, how we live in community and even how we live out our faith.

Our most conscious thinking on this topic started two summers ago. We were living in Roanoke, Virginia and our friends, Jan and Pat Wright, opened their home to us. While staying with them, Jan began to tell us what she had learned about the benefits of whole grains and eating according to God’s design. She recommended two books, GRAINS OF TRUTH by Donna Span and WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING by Dr. Rex Russell. We didn’t have time to read these books that summer but Jan told us about their contents in detail.

Jan also influenced us by living their contents. She bought a flour mill for her family and began making homemade, whole grain breads and muffins. (They were delicious!) She also started making yogurts and granola at home and replacing white sugar in recipes with honey. And the best part was she and Pat, shared their knowledge and abundance with us. We learned by watching (and eating!) what these healthy additions could do for your diet.

Not long after our time in Virginia, we got pregnant with Meilani. That started us on a new stretch of our journey as we began thinking about birthing and raising a child in today’s world. Would we have a natural birth or take drugs during childbirth or choose a C-section? Would we breastfeed or bottle feed? Would we give her inoculations according to the doctor’s recommendations? What would we feed her when she began solids? How would we prepare our home for a baby? What would we eat during pregnancy and as role models for our daughter? How would we include her in our exercise routines? For those of you who are parents or parents-to-be, you know the questions abound. So do the answers. Everyone and their mother’s mother has something to say about how to raise kids properly. It’s a bit unnerving for first-time parents who are just trying to do the right thing and getting so many conflicting messages.

Meilani was born in May and we began to make some tough choices about our lifestyle – some unpopular choices we discovered. We were already on this road but we cut out all fast food during my pregnancy (except for the occasional In ‘n’ Out Burger – which are made with hormone-free beef, fresh veggies, cheese and buns, by the way). We also decided to take the natural birth route and Dorina survived Meilani’s birth without extra drugs. Dorina also committed to breastfeeding our children. We become more convinced each day as we read about breastfeeding that this is God’s design to help children combat diseases, allergies and other healthy problems.

Now as Meilani is eating solid foods in addition to breastfeeding we daily have to make tough choices about snacks, meals, etc. This summer we returned to Virginia where Dorina was working on her master’s degree and we reconnected with our friends, the Wrights. Ericlee also spent his free time (while chasing Meilani around) reading those two books Jan originally recommended, GRAINS OF TRUTH by Donna Span and WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING by Rex Russell. Basically, that reading changed his life – all of our lives.

Ericlee graduated with a master’s degree in Kinesiology. He has read numerous books about nutrition and health as related to athletics. He has always believed there was a better plan – God’s plan – for healthy eating and living, but all the books he read felt like fad diets or new scientific trends missing that link to faith and the Bible. These two books piqued his interest because they were both biblically based. The books present a mix of philosophy about eating and practical ideas about how to live in today’s society.

This past fall Ericlee began work on a major overhaul at Fresno Christian Schools in regards to nutrition and attitidudes on health. Many of you may have probably heard about the revolution in the California public schools taking out sodas, candy and increasing the healthy food options in the cafeterias. Ericlee feels strongly that a private school like Fresno Christian should be leading the bandwagon on this issue, not jumping on as an afterthought. He brought his convictions and readings to school administrators and received some positive feedback. Fast forward a few months and now he is starting a Wellness Council at the school, encouraging kids at lunch hour about healthy options for lunches and talking to teachers and parents about nutrition.

Dorina was recruited to help create the first installment of Nutrition News. We used what we’ve learned from these books and included some of our own two-cents worth as well. We’re slated to write this newsletter at least twice a year for the Fresno Christian community.

Our small group (four other young Christian couples starting families) have already voluntarily joined us on this journey. We meet every other week for dinner and fellowship. We’re starting to read WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING together and discussing how we can live out these “healthy lifestyle goals” practically in community. How can we help each other? How can we hold each other accountable? How can we influence and encourage others? These are some of the questions we will be grappling with as a group.

We are inviting all of you, our friends and family from many walks of life, to join us on the journey. You may want to engage in conversation or send comments through this blog. We would love your input, comments, criticism, kudos or whatever. We'll include recipes, quotes, ah ha moments and we'd love to hear yours. Read on.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...